The Perfect Enemy | The C.D.C. Shuts Down Its Public Covid Dashboard for Cruise Ships
August 17, 2022

The C.D.C. Shuts Down Its Public Covid Dashboard for Cruise Ships

The C.D.C. Shuts Down Its Public Covid Dashboard for Cruise Ships  The New York TimesView Full Coverage on Google News

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has ended its Covid-19 mitigation program for cruise ships in U.S. waters, the public health agency announced on its website.

Cruise lines participating in the voluntary program, which ended Monday, had followed the agency’s policies for coronavirus testing and reporting the vaccination status of passengers and crew, as well as providing regular updates about coronavirus case counts. Using that data, a dashboard on the C.D.C.’s website displayed color-coded ratings based on the number of reported virus cases on a given ship.

That information is no longer publicly available. Passengers will now have to contact cruise lines directly to learn about ongoing outbreaks and virus mitigation policies aboard ships.

The C.D.C. has “determined that the cruise industry has access to the necessary tools,” including vaccinations and testing, to prevent and manage coronavirus transmission, said Jasmine Reed, an agency spokeswoman.

Cruise travelers also have other information at their disposal to make travel decisions, the agency said.

“While cruising poses some risk of Covid-19 transmission, travelers can make their own risk assessment when choosing to cruise, much like they do in other settings,” Ms. Reed said.

Known case counts are rising across the country, fueled by what experts say is the most transmissible variant of the virus to date. For now, despite climbing hospitalizations, public health authorities aren’t broadly calling for the renewal of lapsed mandates like mask requirements.

The U.S. cruise industry has been roiled by the pandemic, with ships docked for more than a year and many reports of rapid outbreaks aboard ships.

Cruise lines have also faced a challenging landscape of changing health directives. For more than two years, the C.D.C. used a four-tier warning system to publicly rate the risk of taking a cruise — in December it advised passengers to avoid cruises completely — but that system was dropped in March.

The C.D.C. says it will continue to publish recommendations and guidance tailored to cruises. Cruise lines are still required to report coronavirus cases to the agency, Ms. Reed added.

Several cruise lines said they awaited further guidance in the coming days from the C.D.C. about managing the spread of the virus.

Already, there are slight differences among cruise lines’ vaccination and testing policies.

Carnival, which said in a statement that it welcomed the C.D.C.’s decision to eliminate the coronavirus program, is maintaining its current policy for now. The cruise line requires guests to be vaccinated or apply for an exemption. Guests over 2 years old must also test negative before boarding.

Royal Caribbean requires guests 12 and older to be vaccinated and strongly encourages travelers to receive a booster shot. Travelers booking with American Cruise Lines aren’t explicitly required to be vaccinated, but they must declare their vaccination status.